Author Avanti Centrae Leaks Top-Secret Marketing Plans

By Debbie Burke


When was the last time you saw a social media post that compelled you to buy a book?

My answer: almost never.

Then I ran across thriller author Avanti Centrae. Her fresh, unique strategy intrigued me. Here’s how we met:

Recently Avanti followed me on Twitter, I followed her back. Next, a direct message arrived from her.

Normally, DMs are off-putting if you don’t already know a person. Sue Coletta covered this in her excellent post Top 10 Social Media Mistakes for Writers. 

Avanti’s DM wasn’t like the usual creepy offers I receive. I never anticipated there would be so many widowed, high-ranking military doctors dying to make my acquaintance.

In contrast, Avanti’s message thanked me for following her and included a photo of her book cover for VanOps: The Lost Power with an invitation to read sample chapters on her website. Her logline is DaVinci Code meets Tomb Raider.”

Next I checked out her website. It was professional and showed she knew a thing or two about marketing.

A bonus freebie (e.g. sample chapters, a short story) is an effective method to build a mailing list. Even though I already subscribe to more newsletters than I can keep up with, I took the bait.

Here’s where the fun began with her sign-up form:

Instead of a bland form asking for name and email, this was an attention-grabber for an espionage thriller series.

She followed up with this confirmation email:


Your security access to the VanOps team has been confirmed.
Your mission may now begin.
Please contact VanOps HQS if you have trouble accessing encrypted mission instructions.
Welcome to the team. Good luck staying alive!
Avanti Centrae, on behalf of Director Bowman


Even her unsubscribe option reinforced the theme:

If you’ve been captured by the enemy, you can:
stop mission updates here


Her classified marketing secrets needed to be ferreted out.   

Avanti Centrae



I disguised myself as a serious journalist and invited Avanti for a TKZ interview. She agreed under the condition that all readers sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement.





Take it away, Avanti!

Debbie Burke: How did you conceive of this clever approach?

Avanti Centrae: When I was brought onto the VanOps team to narrate the team’s extraordinary missions, I was put through a series of extensive background checks. The fingerprinting alone had me smearing ink on surfaces for hours. Stuff wouldn’t wash off! And the lie detector tests…every time my mind wandered, I thought they were going to fry me like a death row inmate. So when I was ready to share the team’s exploits, I thought it fitting that readers get a semblance of the same tribulations I endured.

DB: Are you on other social media platforms besides Twitter?

AC: Yes, this is the only Black Ops organization I know of that encourages publicity. I’m on Facebook and Instagram, too. In my latest novel, THE DOOMSDAY MEDALLION, the teenaged character who gets kidnapped uses TikTok, but it’s not for me.

DB: Which is the most effective platform for you? Why do you think that particular one works well?

AC: All three are effective in their own way. Now that there are three books in the multi-award-winning VanOps series, I’ve been advertising on Facebook, and it’s proving cost effective. Instagram has a nice level of engagement with fans. Twitter works best for this campaign of sending new followers Direct Messages.

DB: Can you rate how effective your campaign has been in terms of email list signups?

AC: I consider it to be well-worth my time. Occasionally someone finds the DM inappropriate, but the vast majority of people appreciate it. Some inquire about audiobook availability, or what retailers have copies. It’s a fun way to chat with fans, too, as many reach back later and tell me how much they enjoyed the ride.

DB: Does marketing come naturally to you?

AC: My background is in IT. Although I don’t have a marketing background, it hasn’t been hard to pick up. Perhaps because I’m motivated. I enjoy writing books, but I also want them to be read. Marketing and Public Relations are two of the best levers authors have to sell books, as a reader can’t read a thriller they don’t know exists.

I treat marketing as a game. Money in, book sales out…try this…try that…keep mixing it up until a combination proves profitable. Making it fun keeps it interesting.

DB: Do you have marketing recommendations for other authors?

AC: The biggest recommendation I have is to avoid spending money on advertising until you have a backlist. Social media doesn’t cost much, and is a great way to connect with fans. Canva is a wonderful tool to spin up posts, or even videos. There’s a really cool trailer at my website that readers can check out. Other advice: take an experimental approach and try different things. You might love producing videos, or find one platform that works better for you and your readers. I’ve heard TikTok is great for YA.

DB: Any final thoughts or insights you’d like to share? If so, will you have to kill us?  

AC: Since all your readers have signed the Non-Disclosure Agreement, they’re safe for now. I do have a cadre of assassins at my disposal though…

A few final thoughts then: Keep on writing. This industry is built on the careers of prolific authors. With just one or two novels, it’s easy to get discouraged. Sometimes the best marketing is the next novel. For me, it’s a good thing the VanOps team gets into so much trouble. I have a lot to write about!

Thanks for spilling the beans, Avanti!


TKZers: Use the comment section to grill Avanti with your specific questions. Please respect her Fifth Amendment rights. If she refuses to answer, no water-boarding.  


This entry was posted in #writetip, marketing, Writing by Debbie Burke. Bookmark the permalink.

About Debbie Burke

Debbie writes the Tawny Lindholm series, Montana thrillers infused with psychological suspense. Her books have won the Kindle Scout contest, the Zebulon Award, and were finalists for the Eric Hoffer Book Award and Her articles received journalism awards in international publications. She is a founding member of Authors of the Flathead and helps to plan the annual Flathead River Writers Conference in Kalispell, Montana. Her greatest joy is mentoring young writers.

30 thoughts on “Author Avanti Centrae Leaks Top-Secret Marketing Plans

  1. Avanti! I was so fortunate to have this multi-talented woman as a beta reader for my novel, and was honored to be one of hers in return. (Does that give me Double Secret Clearance? Hmmmm.) It’s common to read articles where writers complain about how difficult writing can be, but I don’t think you’ll ever see Avanti’s name attached to one of those. She seems to be having as much fun in this industry as any author can possibly have, and that shows up in her brilliant marketing strategies. Such a welcome surprise to find this interview waiting for me this morning. Well done Debbie, and keep up the great work Avant!

    • Gregg, the writing world is indeed a small one. Avanti’s positive, enthusiastic attitude is infectious. The reader wants to join in the fun.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience.

  2. Thank you for sharing, Debbie and Avanti. If Van Ops: The Lost Power is half as clever as your marketing, Avanti, the streaming services will be knocking at your door. Nicely done.

    Hope that you both have a terrific week!

  3. Thank you, Debbie and Avanti. This is a great post, and very helpful.

    I love to read about creative marketing techniques. This is one of the best yet. Thanks, Avanti for spilling the beans, and for your take on the various social media platforms. Thanks, Debbie, for introducing Avanti to those of us who had not yet met her.

    Wonderful post! I hope your week is a good one!

  4. But waterboarding is so fun!

    I’m up to my eyeballs in assassins with.the Will Robie series – I didn’t think I’d like it but I had read everything else and now I’m hooked.

    Will definitely check Avanti out – sounds like fun.
    I hate newsletters but if you can have this much fun with them I may start one.

  5. Debbie, to answer your original question, I just bought a new book Sunday based on a book recommendation on social media. 🙂 Avanti’s approach is top-notch. I love it when authors get creative with book marketing. Thanks for a fun post!

  6. Thanks Debbie. You did a wonderful job in your deep undercover assignment as a journalist. Your talents are undoubtedly in high demand. I’ll recommend you to Director Bowman and perhaps you’ll be able to join the team on a future assignment with the VanOps team. You’ve earned your stripes!

  7. Thanks, Debbie and Avanti for sharing this. Very creative approach to connecting with readers and building a mailing list. Much better than the robot-like approach (come to think of it, maybe it was a bot) I’ve seen in the past from other authors using DM on Twitter. Excellent point about not really advertising until you have a backlist. That’s been my own experience, too.

    Thanks again!

  8. Debbie and Avanti, thank you for this fun and informative post. Avanti’s creativity is impressive!

    I have a question: Avanti, where did you get the name “Avanti Centrae” from?

    Thanks for getting us off to a great start on Tuesday morning.

  9. Gold here, Debbie and Avanti. “Don’t spend money on paid ads until there’s a backlist”. There’s a ‘rule’ of a thousand faithful followers that builds a writer’s fortune – SM is a great tool for building the future backlist buyers and buyers of new releases. Looks like you have VanOPs operational, Avanti. Awesome!

  10. Debbie, what a fantastic find!
    In answer to your question: very recently! I found a delightfully grim series based wholly on readers’ suggestions via a SciFi/Fantasy Books Facebook group.
    I likely never would have noticed the author or his work without that group.
    And this incredibly clever workmanship of Avanti’s has made me look at newsletters in an entirely new light! She thought of everything, down to the hilarious Unsubscribe option. Well done!

    • Glad Avanti’s methods inspired you, Cyn. I too loved her “unsubscribe” option. It would make me want to continue receiving newsletters from her.

  11. What a fun post! As soon as I meet my deadline, I’m coming back and rereading it to get inspiration for my newsletter. 🙂 I usually have fun with my newsletter but Avanti takes it to a new level.

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